Mamma mia! Here we go again…
Thirty years after the ill-fated live-action version plumbed the depths of video game adaptations, Nintendo’s platform-hopping Italian duo get another shot at big screen glory in new animated caper The Super Mario Bros. Movie – let’s hope it’s more Pixar than Pixels.
Plus, Air reveals how Michael Jordan became master of the shoeniverse – while The Pope’s Exorcist is a new chiller starring Russell Crowe and not, alas, His Holiness’ take on the William Friedkin classic.
I would definitely be up for religious leaders reimagining old horror films though. “The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Psycho – It’ll scare the bejesus out of you…”
The Super Mario Bros. Movie
The 1990s’ second most celebrated fraternal duo (after Phil and Grant, obviously) are back in this new animated adventure, featuring the voices of Chris Pratt and Charlie Day (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) as Mario and Luigi.
The story sees the moustachioed twosome transported into the magical Mushroom Kingdom while out on a plumbing job (making the whole film an extended, multi-million dollar spin on the classic phrase “He’s just gone to get some parts”) – but when the pair become separated, Mario must set out on a quest to rescue his beloved brother.
Fortunately, help is at hand from the kingdom’s ruler Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy) and mushroom-headed miniature hero Toad (Keegan Michael-Key) – while Seth Rogen rolls out the barrels as Jungle Kingdom MVP Donkey Kong.
The latest release from Illumination (the studio behind Despicable Me), it’s got a promising pedigree in the form of directors Michael Jelenic and Aaron Horvath, who previously collaborated on the screenplay for 2018’s much-loved Teen Titans Go! To the Movies.
Having marshalled Argo to Oscar triumph back in 2012, Ben Affleck switches from strange-but-true to strange-but-shoe with his latest directorial outing, which tells the story behind the creation of the iconic Air Jordan trainer.
Affleck’s regular sparring partner Matt Damon stars as Sonny Vaccaro, the Nike salesman who in 1984 sets out to secure a game-changing partnership between the sportswear company and a rookie basketball player by the name of Michael Jordan – but to do so, he’ll have to win the trust of Jordan’s mother Deloris (Viola Davis), not to mention Nike CEO Phil Knight (Affleck).
‘How a shoe came to be’ isn’t, on the face of it, the most attention-grabbing premise for a film, but impressive reviews suggest that this is a crowd-pleasing tale with its feet planted firmly in the sporting underdog tradition.
The Pope’s Exorcist
“If you have a problem with me, you talk to my boss – the Pope.”
I mean, if you go to see Russell Crowe playing an exorcist that’s exactly the kind of line you want to hear him say, isn’t it?
Based on the memoirs of real-life exorcist Father Gabriele Amorth (who was also the subject of a 2017 documentary by The Exorcist director William Friedkin), the story follows Crowe’s priest as he investigates the terrifying possession of a young boy.
Expect head-spinning, levitating, and most chillingly of all, a child speaking with the diabolical voice of Finchy from The Office…
Easter holidays round-up
If you’re looking for something to help the kids soothe that post-Easter sugar crash then never fear, there are plenty of big screen options to hunker down with when the comedown starts.
The chance to sit in a darkened room might, however, be the biggest selling point of this week’s new release Little Bear’s Big Trip, a Russian animation (dubbed into English) described by the Guardian as ‘a cinematic naughty step’.
It does at least have the merit of being cheap, showing daily at Vue and Cineworld in their budget family-friendly strands – tickets £2.49 at Vue and £2.50 at Cineworld.
More reliable bargain entertainment is on offer at Cineworld in the form of Matilda the Musical, also showing daily (£2.49), while How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World concludes the ever-popular fantasy saga at City Screen on Sat 8th (tickets £3.30).
Of the full-price releases, The Super Mario Bros. Movie (showing daily at all four cinemas) will be top of many kids’ watchlists this week; elsewhere, underwhelming-sounding new release Mummies continues daily at Cineworld, Everyman and Vue, while Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is on daily at Cineworld (except Fri 7th) and Vue, and sounds a far safer bet – it’s also on at Everyman on Weds 12th.
And finally, two to entertain the younger kids: Pip and Posy: Cinema Show Special is City Screen’s Toddler Time screening on Fri 7th (tickets £3.30), while Vue continue their daily double bill of Zog and The Gruffalo’s Child (tickets £3.99).
She was a straight-A student. He was a charming bad boy with a sideline in underground boxing. They kept themselves to themselves, graduated without incident and never saw each other again after high school.
One day I’ll find a publisher for my series of doggedly realistic young adult non-romances – but until then you’ll have to make do with the likes of Beautiful Disaster (showing daily at Cineworld and Vue), the latest YA bestseller to get the big screen treatment.
If the trailer’s anything to go by, though, its intended audience would do far better seeking out the brilliant British romcom Rye Lane, which has a few more showings at City Screen this week (Sat 8th, Sun 9th, Tues 11th, Thurs 13th).
Matters of the heart have proved fertile territory for celebrated French director Mia Hansen-Love (who made her English-language debut with last year’s Bergman Island) – you can catch a preview of her latest emotional odyssey One Fine Morning, starring Léa Seydoux, at City Screen on Tues 11th.
And from one modern-day French icon to another – the great Julie Delpy (Before Sunrise) stars in Three Colours: White, the second film in director Krzysztof Kieslowski’s classic 90s trilogy, showing at City Screen on Fri 7th, Sun 9th, Mon 10th and Thurs 13th.
City Screen also have a couple of screenings of intriguing animation Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman on Tues 11th and Thurs 13th – based on the short story collection by the oft-adapted author Haruki Marukami (the big screen version of whose story Drive My Car was a recent arthouse hit), it follows the lives of a wide-ranging cast of Tokyo residents (including a giant talking frog) in the wake of the 2011 tsunami.
There’s more surreal storytelling on offer courtesy of acclaimed meta comedy-thriller Leonor Will Never Die (City Screen, Mon 10th), an action movie homage which sees reality and fantasy start to blur for a retired screenwriter when a falling television set puts her into a coma.
Over at Cineworld, there’s a preview of highly rated new environmental thriller How to Blow Up a Pipeline on Mon 10th, while Vue have a screening of politically-charged spy saga Cairo Conspiracy on Weds 12th.
For Metallica fans, meanwhile, nothing else matters besides the chance to hear their eagerly-awaited new album 72 Seasons before anyone else – head down to Everyman for the global premiere on Thurs 13th.
From men of metal to the Man of Steel next – Christopher Reeve’s original son of Krypton is back on the big screen this week to celebrate 45 years since Superman first made audiences believe a man can fly, and you can catch him at Cineworld (Mon 10th) and Vue (Fri 7th, Sat 8th, Mon 10th, Tues 11th, Thurs 13th).
That said, there’s no more heroic figure on the big screen this week than Elsie Fisher’s Kayla, the painfully shy but quietly determined teenager at the heart of modern coming-of-age classic Eighth Grade, showing on Sun 9th as part of City Screen’s celebration of US indie studio A24 – can’t recommend this one highly enough, and even better, it’s free to attend if you’re a City Screen member (regular tickets are at the reduced rate of £8.00).
There’s more teenage angst at City Screen on Sat 8th in a double bill of much-loved animes Your Name and Weathering with You, showing ahead of the release of director Makoto Shinkai’s eagerly anticipated new film Suzume, out next week.
Let’s step shakily off the emotional rollercoaster of adolescence now and find something altogether more chilled over at Vue, where the Dude continues to abide with more 25th anniversary screenings of The Big Lebowski (Fri 7th to Sun 9th).
And talking of Messianic figures, it wouldn’t be Easter without Monty Python’s Life of Brian, which experiences its annual big screen resurrection at City Screen (Sun 9th, Mon 10th) and Everyman (Sun 9th, Tues 11th).
Rumours that John Cleese and his daughter are working on a hilarious ‘anti-woke’ update which will see a latter-day Brian (played by Ricky Gervais) ‘crucified by cancel culture’ are, mercifully, not even rumours, just something I made up to make you feel relieved when you realised it wasn’t true. Yet…